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Yeshiva A or Bais Yaakov A has serious financial problems. They are doing all they can to stay viable, however unless a big donor steps forward they will be forced to close. If the school tells the parents how critical the situation is, that alone will make the parents look for other schools, and by the additional loss of tuition the school will for sure close. Yet if they do not tell the parents the situation and continue to try to find the big donor they need, they may be forced to close right before school starts and thus the parents may be stuck without a school for their children. What is the responsibility of the school towards the parents Halachically? How open do they have to be with the financial situation they are in?

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    +1 for a "hot" question. I've seen this occur in a few places; fortunately, not in my neighborhood. I think that not telling the parents up front is a case of "lifnei iver". If nothing else, it is almost impossible to register kids in another yeshiva at the last minute. In most situations, when the yeshiva is up front, the parents that really care make an effort to find the money. I.e. - among the parents there IS a big donor or a parent knows of a big donor. Seems that's a better chance of a positive outcome than worrying about it and doing nothing. There will always be panickers, anyway. – DanF Jun 9 '15 at 20:50
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    I was in a Yeshiva that closed. They were waiting for a big donor to come up with the money but as soon as they realized that it might not come they let the parents know about July 5th & a lot of parents were upset they did not know before even though they had a whole summer to find a new yeshiva for their sons. – user9788 Jul 20 '15 at 2:20
  • Perhaps a deal can be done with a nearby school to handle the situation. i.e. A plan to transition students (and perhaps staff) should the need arise. That way hopefully the school can stay open, but if it does have to close, the students, and other school may benefit. (To facilitate the deal, perhaps enrolment fees and so forth for next year held in a trust until the decision is finalised) – Jacob Oct 2 '15 at 2:06
  • Ask the Rosh Yeshiva. – Uncle Jan 31 '16 at 2:49
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The Torah says, "Do not place a stumbling block before the blind." It also commands to distance oneself from falsehood. It sounds like in your scenario, the parents have an understanding that the ability for their children to go to the school is secure, and they are trusting that there isn't a doubt about that by virtue of not looking to put their kids into alternative schools. By withholding the truth, you are implicitly letting the parents believe there is a school they can go to, and you are preventing the parents from having the information they need to make the decisions for their children.

Imagine a businessman trying to get investors into his business. And they initially are willing to invest because it seems like there will be a larger investor to make the business secure. If the businessman finds out the big investor might not end up investing, and he withholds this information from the smaller investors, he may cause them to lose their money that they may not be able to afford to risk. It would be dishonest and wrong.

In my opinion, you would be required to be honest about the situation before the parents lose the opportunity to put their kids into a different school.

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    It this your own logic that applies those two scriptural verses to this case, or do you some source or other evidence that says that they apply here? If the latter, can you edit it in? (And if it is your own logic, perhaps you should qualify "You would be required" with some terminology that implies it's your own opinion.) – msh210 Jan 31 '16 at 3:34
  • @msh210 Conversely, I might argue that geneivas da'as might be a better fit - the seller is deceiving the buyer that the product is available for sale, preventing the buyer from looking elsewhere in the market to fulfill their need. – Isaac Kotlicky Mar 2 '16 at 13:06
  • @Uncle. I took a course on Civil Law v Halakha. The business segment of your answer was discussed in the context of "insider trading" . It is illegal in USA but halakhically it may be permissible. Especially if you were responsible for convincing others to invest in a business venture and you now have inside information that some unexpected factor will adversely affect the investment. (Such as a government agency will not approve the project, or a new regulation is about to be enacted, all as of yet, unannounced) – JJLL May 1 '17 at 19:09
  • @IsaacKotlicky "the seller is deceiving the buyer" - possibly. That's hard to qualify. The yeshiva might be hoping for a donor, and if they tell parents too early, many will panic and leave the yeshiva, which would make any subsequent donation meaningless. In short, it's far fro ma straightforward answer. You can't even risk an honest explanation by saying, "We think we will get a donation to keep us alive". – DanF Oct 26 '18 at 18:27
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if a parent asks the school for advice then as the Mesilat Yesharim writes in ch.11

The obligation of the upright man when someone comes to him for advice is to counsel him what he himself would have done in a similar situation, without looking at any purpose whatsoever, distant or immediate, other than the benefit of the person asking advice.

Rabbi Avraham Erlinger, a yeshiva Rabbi in Kol Torah, Jerusaelm comments there:

It is common among sellers of merchandise, or shadchanim (matchmakers) or anyone who has a yeshiva and seeks talmidim (students)... in all these things there is a great trial (nisayon) for one who has personal interests to advise according to what is good for himself and his relatives and students... even if his advice is good for the public, and there is a Kidush Hashem (sanctification of God's Name), or kindness to the public - all this is not a permit against this mitzva of "do not put a stumbling block before the blind", whose obligation is to give a beneficial and suitable advice according to the questioner.

and even if the parents are ignorant of the situation, then I think the words later on of the Mesilat Yesharim apply:

The Branches of the sin of "profanation of [God's] Name" (Chillul Hashem) are also numerous and great. For a person must be exceedingly concerned of his Master's honor. In everything he does, he must look and contemplate exceedingly that there will not come out of this something which may cause a profanation of the honor of Heaven, God forbid.

Rabbi Erlinger comments there:

ER - "which may cause" - hence not only actively profaning God's Name is forbidden but even causing this indirectly (grama), or doubly indirectly (grama d'grama). Namely, that one's deeds should not lead to a profanation of the honor of Heaven... We also learn here, that even when there is a doubt that one's deeds may lead to a profanation, this is also sufficient [to forbid] as can be seen from the examples given by Rabeinu which are just concerns that perhaps people will say he did not act befittingly...

  • I don't see this addressing the question. The base assumption in the question is what the yeshiva should do and they haven't yet told anyone. Thus, no parent or anyone has asked the yeshiva for advice. – DanF Oct 26 '18 at 18:22

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